By Andrew Ellis, Editor-in-Chief
Simple acts of kindness are usually just that. But the longterm affect they can have on the giver and receiver is undeniable. Whether it was helping a teammate improve or taking the lead on of his many mission trips, Jake Anderson’s life was all about those acts of kindness.
“On mission trips, one of his favorite things to do, he always drove the team he was working with to do more,” his mother Kristi Anderson says. “He would take the lead whether digging ditches in sweltering heat, or playing games and making crafts with the kids.”
On the field his enthusiasm and worth ethic made him a natural leader. He tended goal for Orono High School’s lacrosse team, wearing number 60.
“He was always the first one on the practice or warm up field taking shots,” she says. “And the last one picking up equipment or working with other players who wanted extra practice.”
At school and around the rest of the community his smile and kindness was always there. He would regularly stay after to help his friends out if they were struggling in a class or needed some extra help in the weight room. He’d be right there lifting them up and encouraging them.
“He always had that twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face that made them feel like they were his best friend,” she says. “That was Jake, a quiet leader on and off the field, and a loving, kind friend to all.”
Anderson would go on to be one of the captains of the lacrosse team through the rest of his time there. After he graduated he went to the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus for school and lacrosse. Unfortunately it that December his body was found by the river near campus. His mom says he was found “severely hypothermic” under what she says are still “somewhat mysterious circumstances.”
Despite his untimely death his impact had already begun to spread amongst his peers on campus. His family started receiving notes about what he had done for his new friends.
“We received numerous notes from kids he met briefly at the university who said how he made their days brighter,” she says. “Whether it was a smile, always a joke, helping to collect a girl’s books and papers after she dropped them, or walking girls and friends home from parties at night to make sure they made it home safe.”
It was Anderson’s leadership, kindness, and more on and off the field that led his family and one of his former lacrosse coaches, the Plott Hounds’ Noah Alexander, to create the Jake Anderson “60 for #60” Foundation. It encourages student athletes across the state to give 60 minutes of their time each week to volunteering in Jake’s name.
The foundation, which Alexander is on the board of, recognizes those students with scholarships, #60 leadership stickers, and awards with their coaches. It also hosts a lacrosse goalie clinic every spring at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.
This Monday the foundation will partnering with the Minnesota Minute Men at Surly Brewery for a benefit concert put on by the Plott Hounds. There will also be a beer tasting and silent auction raffle. All proceeds will go to the foundation to help support scholarships, programming, and other goals to honor Jake’s spirit and memory.
“He continues to make an impact in spirit – his work is not done whether he is here or not,” she says. “And his friends and family will always shine bright for him.”